Views of Ghosts in Different Cultures
With Halloween drawing ever nearer, I decided to write an article about one of its most common aspects (and costumes) – ghosts.
Before we start, we have to ask ourselves, what exactly a ghost is. Well, even this definition sometimes differs from culture to culture. But, something definitions have in common is that a ghost is usually a soul, or spirit, of a dead person or animal that can either be felt by, or appear to the living. However, the descriptions and behavior of the ghosts depend on the culture.
In the Western world, or rather English-speaking countries, a ghost is considered a manifestation of the dead. Its history goes back even before Christianity when people believed in animism, which is a belief that places, objects and animals have a spiritual essence, if not a soul. People had beliefs, which later translated into popular culture, that ghosts are mostly tortured souls that died a violent death. The ghosts could be released from wandering the Earth if the object that tied them to this plane was destroyed or a task completed. In Europe, mostly around the Iberian Peninsula, people left a window opened or removed a tile from the roof at the time of death to allow the soul of the deceased to leave undisturbed.
Everybody is afraid of something. However, not everyone has a phobia. Phobia is an intense and irrational fear of one specific trigger, although the American Psychiatric Association recognizes three types of phobia.
One, whose definition is synonymous with the broad definition of phobia is called ‘specific phobia’, where we slot fears such as arachnophobia, ‘social phobia’ which is a great fear of public humiliation and being singled out or judged by others in a social situation, such as public speaking and ‘agoraphobia’, which is fear of situations from which it would be difficult to escape if a person were to experience extreme panic, which is often misunderstood as a fear of open spaces, but could also apply to being confined to small spaces, such as being trapped on a public bus.
Scientifics are slightly geeky additions that have been with us since the eagle has known how to fly. Okay, not that long, but it's a nifty category that separates it from the usual ramble of articles.